Real Madrid vs Barcelona, Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers; none of those rivalries compares to New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox, the greatest rivalry in the history of sports.
The Yankees vs Red Sox rivalry is heartfelt. They truly despise each other, and it goes far beyond the field. Fans, media, and even players just hate each other's guts, and they've made it clear by partaking some of the most infamous brawls in baseball history.
Yankees players and Red Sox players just don't get along. Even so, there have been as many as 230 MLB players that went on to play for both teams at some point in their careers, some of them even becoming fan favorites during their tenures at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.
That's why today, we're going to put together the ultimate list of the Yankees vs Red Sox rivalry, ranking the 15 MLB stars who played for both teams, obviously considering their time with the franchise and not just their career as a whole.
Honorable mentions: Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Jack Chesbro, Mike Lowell, Herb Pennock.
15. Jacoby Ellsbury
Well, Jacoby Ellsbury is far from being a fan favorite in New York, as he's even considered one of the worst contracts in the history of the franchise. The Yankees signed him to a seven-year, $153 million deal in 2013 after thriving with the Red Sox, but injuries and lackluster performances forced the team to release him in 2020 after 3 years on the shelf.
That may have granted him more love from Boston Red Sox fans. He played for Boston from 2007 and 2013 and played a huge part in their two World Series titles. He was also an All-Star and Gold Glove winner before committing the ultimate sin.
14. Rick Cerone
Rick Cerone was always tied to the Yankees organization in one way or the other. He had three different stints with the team, one from 1980-84, then again in 1987, and last, but not least, in 1990. However, he played for the Red Sox as well from 1988-89.
Cerone was one of the best defensive catchers in the league during his prime and he sure made his presence felt during his first stint with the Yankees. His production took a major downfall and the Yankees released him after his second tenure, thus leading to him signing a one-year deal with the Red Sox before eventually coming back home.
13. Duffy Lewis
Duffy Lewis had one of the strongest arms in the world back in the day. He excelled at left-field for the Boston Red Sox from 1910-17 and even helped them win the World Series in 1912, 1915, and 1916.
Lewis had a brief one-year stint with the New York Yankees later before eventually retiring with the Washington Senators. Ha played over 1,100 games with the Red Sox and was even inducted into the team's Hall of Fame.
12. Sparky Lyle
The Boston Red Sox drafted Sparky Lyle and he fought his way through the farm system to the big team. He became the team's closer and saved over 60 games in four years from 1967 to 71. However, the Red Sox inexplicably traded him to the New York Yankees right before Opening Day of the 1972 season.
Lyle went on to become the league's most dominant reliever with the Yankees, even winning the AL CY Young award in 1977. He was a 3-time All-Star, 2-time World Series champion, and led the American League in saves twice with the Yankees.
11. David Wells
David Wells bounced around the league for years, so it's not a surprise to see him play for both the Yankees and Red Sox. He was never the most dominant pitcher in the league and sometimes struggled with control, but his stint with the Yankees definitely grants him a spot on this list.
Wells won 1 of his 2 World Series with the Yankees. He also threw a perfect game in 1998 with them, was an All-Star and the ALCS MVP. His tenure with the Red Sox wasn't as memorable, though, as he struggled with inconsistency and injuries.
10. Carl Mays
Sports-wise, Carl Mays did pretty much everything one should do to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Personality-wise, he did the opposite. He was regarded as a despicable man and his constant antics on and off the field granted him a poor reputation around the league, especially around players.
Mays forced his way out of the Red Sox after four years (and 2 World Series) with the team by simply not showing up or reporting to the team. They traded him to the Yankees where he went on to win 2 more rings and led the league in wins. He also threw the pitch that killed Ray Chapman, although he always claimed it wasn't on purpose.
9. Johnny Damon
Johnny Damon was a fan favorite during his stints with the Red Sox and Yankees. That's not something that happens too often in this kind of rivalry, especially when you jump from one team straight to the other as he did when he left Boston in 2005 after three years with the team.
Damon won the World Series with the Red Sox in 2004 before winning another with the New York Yankees in 2009. His hustle, timely batting, and passion made him one of the most respected players in the league during his playing days.
8. Luis Tiant
Cuban legend Luis Tiant was one of the most respected and beloved pitchers of his era. He was among the league's ERA leaders and even became an All-Star with the Cleveland Indians, but it's clear that his golden years came with the Red Sox.
Tiant led the league in ERA and was a 2-time All-Star at Boston but his 7-year tenure at Massachusetts came to an end when the Yankees came in knocking with an offer he couldn't refuse. He was far behind his prime and didn't live up to the expectations, though.
7. Ben Chapman
Ben Chapman was a true five-tool player. The guy could literally do it all, and he even went on to become a manager following his playing days. During his stint with the Yankees, he led the league in stolen bases three times (out of seven seasons), also winning a World Series.
Chapman went on to have a brief tenure with the Washington Senators before being traded to the Boston Red Sox for a couple of years, leading the American League in stolen bases once again. His tenure with the Yankees was cut short due to the arrival of Joe DiMaggio.
6. Waite Hoyt
The Boston Red Sox instantly regretted to trade Waite Hoyt away to the New York Yankees. There wasn't much room for him in Beantown after logging 10 wins for them and spending most of the time in the minors league. Needless to say, the breakout came as soon as he was given a chance.
Hoyt went on to win 157 games with the Yankees. He also led the league in wins once and three World Series. By the time of his retirement, he held the record for most wins in World Series history, so yeah, trading him was a huge mistake.
5. Red Ruffing
Through Red Ruffin's first 6 years of his career, his performances on the mound were unimpressive, to say the least. He mightily struggled to win games for the Red Sox and was traded away to the Yankees for spare parts and cash considerations.
Then, he broke out as one of the most dominant pitchers of his time, becoming a 6-time All-Star and 4-time World Series champion. He also led the American League once in strikeouts and wins. His turnaround granted him a spot in the Hall of Fame, the Red Sox' Hall of Fame, and the Monument Park.
4. Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs is what you may call a late bloomer. He was drafted by the Red Sox in 1976 but didn't make the Major Leagues until 1982. He instantly became a fan favorite because of his remarkable offensive contributions. He was a perennial All-Star and won multiple Silver Slugger awards with the Red Sox.
Then, the Evil Empire came knocking and Boggs broke the Boston fans' hearts by joining the Yankees as a free agent. He went on to win a World Series, made 4 All-Star appearances, and won a couple of more Silver Slugger awards.
3. Elston Howard
Elston Howard is one of the most iconic players of all time. He was the first African American to ever play for the Yankees and is considered to be one of the greatest Yankees of all time. He was a 12-time All-Star, AL MVP, 6-time World Series winner, and 2-time Gold Glove winner during his time with the Pinstripers.
He played for the Yankees from 1955-67 until he was traded to the Red Sox after a down year. He went on to play there until his retirement in 1968 but later came back to work as the Yankees' manager for 10 seasons.
2. Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens is one of the greatest, most dominant pitchers to ever live. He reignited the Yankees vs Red Sox rivalry when he joined the ladder as a free agent after 13 seasons at Fenway Park. He was even drafted by the Red Sox.
Clemens was a 5-time All-Star, 3-time CY Young during his time with the Red Sox. He was also the AL MVP, two-time wins leader, 5-time ERA leader, and 3-time strikeout leader. However, it wasn't until he joined the Yankees that he could win the World Series (1999 and 2000). He added 3 more CY Youngs and multiple accolades to his resume during his time with the Pinstripers.
1. Babe Ruth
There aren't many things we could say about the great Babe Ruth that haven't been said countless times already, so we're just going to say the obvious: he's the greatest baseball player of all time and it's not even close. The guy could throw 9 scoreless innings, bat two home runs, and then hit the bar with the boys to grab a beer or two. All in one day.
Ruth was an incredibly dominant pitcher during his days with the Red Sox (1914-19). Then, team owner Harry Frazee traded him to the Yankees for $100,000 and a $300,000 loan. The rest, as you know, is history, as this trade altered the course of baseball as we know it. He won 3 World Series with Boston and 4 with the Yankees, making them what they are nowadays.